We Are Both The Backbone and Future of America: Listen to Us.

The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government.

I’m not rich. My family isn’t rich. And it had nothing to do with us being lazy. My dad is one of the best science teachers in one of Boston’s toughest Public schools: a distinction he earned from years of excellent service. He was even a finalist in the Einstein Fellowship competition. We are all active in our community. My brother is an MLK Scholar for two years now and was selected to speak as a teen empowerment speaker to the 600 youth in the John Hancock summer youth program. He spoke on how he has started his own photography business. He mentioned how he has worked through various challenges – including a severe hand injury. He continues to coax professional quality images out of a point-and-shoot tourist camera – as neither he nor his family can afford a higher end, more professional machine.

I will be a freshman in college this year. I will be majoring in Biomedical Engineering. However, my career began 4 years ago. For the past 4 years I have worked and served as a youth teacher in informal STEM education. I have worked with professional educators to develop STEM programs for young people based on my own experiences. I teach people ages 4 and up the basics of digital fabrication and modern engineering. I’m working with a project right now to bring access to modern fabrication technology to the members of my community. We are the Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Project (TIE Project). We just installed our first temporary lab in our local YMCA. I have been invited by MIT to travel internationally and share my experiences at symposia. I’ve served as a lab manager and technician in two different community labs and traveled around the US and abroad, consulting, developing programs and teaching.

We are contributing citizens. Hard working, patriotic Americans. However, for the first 15 years of my life, my family (which soon totaled 6 persons) and I lived in a 1 bedroom apartment in the depressed area of Dorchester, Massachusetts. Why did/do we stay in this situation? Because our income vs the cost of living simply doesn’t allow us to afford otherwise.

In light of this, you can imagine that it really bothers me when I hear government officials and policy makers pushing rhetoric that suggests that we, the other 99% of Americans just need to work harder. We need to pay more taxes and let go of some of our entitlements. I wonder what is the purpose of government, in their eyes since its not to support its citizens. Not when you suggest cuts to Medicare and education, social security and welfare programs.

No. We don’t want big government. We don’t want the government to tap our phone lines and tell us which bank to trust with our money, or where to buy our clothes, or how to raise our children. Or strip search us at the airport, or ask us for our “papers” at random checkpoints.

We want our government to let us protect ourselves and we want it to help us do that. We want it to use its vast resources to put food in the mouth of our American children, who’s parents are working as hard as they can to keep up with rent, utilities, education, clothing and food for their families but because of inflation and a million other things – just can’t make it. We want our government to help us care for our elderly who have devoted their lives to building up this country. We want our government to help hard-working American students get a good education, so that we can join the workforce, care for ourselves and our families and build up this great country we call home.

Whatever happened to “serve and protect”? Whatever happened to “government for the people, by the people”? I want to know. Americans demand to know.

When I filled out my Federal Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) this year, in-spite of the size of our family and the fact that our financial obligations are very nearly equal to our income, our Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) was close to $10,000 per year. This is not something we can even begin to afford and excludes us from various sources of much needed help in the way of scholarships and grants. And with my brother starting college in the next couple of years? I wonder how this will happen.

The school that I am currently attending is meeting less than 25% of our demonstrated need according to FAFSA. My school gave me a merit scholarship based on the competitiveness of my application. The scholarship plus Federal Aid I received totaled $15,900 for the year, leaving us to scramble for the rest of the college’s $43,000 per year Cost of Attendance tag. I should mention that the entirety of federal aid I received was in the form of loans and work-study.

I remember one particular article on college financing that my mother and I read. This article was directed towards parents who were not helping pay for their child’s education. It suggested – nay implicitly stated, that the parents who do not pay for their child’s education are not willing to sacrifice – that they should care enough for their child to go with out that vacation to Aruba, or the weekly nights out. Neither of these (or similar expenses) are luxuries my family has ever taken. For example, we don’t even have cable. What do you say to caring, dedicated families who simply don’t have the money to educate their budding engineer? These people really and truly, do exist.

I want an answer to the question our President asked tonight regarding the debt ceiling:

How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries? How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?

I’m not of the opinion that since you make more money then I do, I am entitled to some of what you make. Not at all. I am of the opinion that the strong ought to bear their burden just as well as the weak must bear theirs. Not pass it on for the weak to bear, in addition to their own. This kind of policy crushes and destroys. It kills the weak before they can become strong, which, if they were allowed to, would enable them to bear more of the burden.

Simply put: I am a hard working African-American woman with the potential, drive and desire to contribute much to her country. I have already begun in my local area. As you can see, it’s difficult for me to get the education I need to move on. If the government would choose to use its resources to make it possible (or rather stop making it close to impossible) for me and millions of other Americans like me to get the education we strive for, that would be one of the greatest and most productive economic investments the nation could make.

AMERICA! INVEST IN YOUR PEOPLE! INVEST IN AMERICANS! WE ARE OUR FUTURE!

By cutting down the middle and lower economic classes of America, and keeping them in perpetual and ever more crushing financial slavery, we cut out the foundation out of our country. It is the government’s job to use its resources to nurture, serve and protect it’s people. A functional government does not stand back and feed the rich, turning it’s back on their abuse of the poor while the working class languishes and dies. This is what the French Monarchy did. Do you remember what that led to?

If we were to default, as our president said:

More of our tax dollars will go toward paying off the interest on our loans. Businesses will be less likely to open up shop and hire workers in a country that can’t balance its books. Interest rates could climb for everyone who borrows money – the homeowner with a mortgage, the student with a college loan, the corner store that wants to expand. And we won’t have enough money to make job-creating investments in things like education and infrastructure, or pay for vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Washington, please don’t let this happen. Please serve and protect us like you are supposed to do. Like we elected you to do.

Sincerely,
America’s Future (The People)

You can read the full text of tonight’s speaches here.


BIG NEWS: Today we installed the beginnings of the Roxbury/GroveHall Fab Lab in the YMCA! You have no idea how big this is for me. I’m sooo excited! XD
Pictures!
Photobucket

We are looking for volunteers. If you are interested, contact me at makeda@thetieproject.org

Big Ambitionz
Day 26
74 Dayz to go

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